Folkestone Invicta 0-0 Bishop's Stortford - You need a team that are willing to fight for each other and I think you saw two teams out there today that were willing to do that, says Folkestone Invicta's assistant manager Roland Edge

Tuesday 07th December 2021
Folkestone Invicta 0 – 0 Bishop's Stortford
Location Cheriton Road, Folkestone, Kent CT19 5JU
Kickoff 07/12/2021 19:45

Isthmian League Premier Division
Tuesday 7 December 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Cheriton Road

FOLKESTONE INVICTA assistant manager Roland Edge says a draw was the right result against in-form fellow promotion challengers Bishop’s Stortford at Cheriton Road.

Steve Smith’s side arrived at a wet and windy Kent coast on an impressive unbeaten run of 13 games and were a well-organised direct outfit and their well-earned point sees them leapfrog over Lewes into fifth-place in the Isthmian League Premier Division table with 32 points from 19 games.

Folkestone Invicta remain in third-place with 34 points from 18 games, seven points adrift of leaders Worthing, who came away from Haringey Borough with a point in a 2-2 draw.

“To be honest, the weather conditions an hour before kick-off, it looked like the only thing that could happen would be the game getting called off.  Credit to the quality of our pitch, it managed to go ahead,” said Edge.

“Bishop’s Stortford are on a great run and I think they showed why they’re on a great run today.  They’re a well solid unit. I thought we did alright as well but I think in all honesty, a draw was the right result.

“I think they’ve got a good balance of experience throughout their side. They looked to play through (Jake Cass), he holds it up well.  I just thought they had good cohesion. They looked like a team that have been with each other for a long time, they play that well.

“It does help in this sort of game. It’s windy, it’s rainy, the pitch is cutting up and you need a team that are willing to fight for each other and I think you saw two teams out there today that were willing to do that.”

Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley was without defensive players Matthew Newman (hamstring) and Ryan Johnson (groin) so Josh Vincent partnered Callum Davies in central defence with Jordan Wright (right-back) and Alfie Paxman (left-back) making up the back four.

This was a game played in tough conditions and both sides put their bodies on the line to ensure a draw was a fair outcome, as Cugley’s side extended their unbeaten run to four games after five successive away games in league and cup.

Bishop’s Stortford were a well-drilled direct outfit and started the game on the front foot with balls coming in to test goalkeeper Tim Roberts and his defenders, but Folkestone Invicta almost grabbed the lead following their second corner of the game in the sixth minute.

Scott Heard floated the ball in from the right and holding midfielder Micheal Everitt’s diving header at the far post was blocked.

“Tim Roberts’ has had to make a save, Alfie’s done a block on the line and then you go straight up the other and end Mev (Everitt) heads it and the keeper makes a great save. It was just that sort of game in the first-half.  The first-half was a bit more clearer cut than the second, opportunity wise,” said Edge.

A frenetic opening died down with neither side creating any real clear cut chances until the 20th minute when Bishop’s Stortford had a couple of chances within 39 seconds of one another.

A long ball from centre-half Ryan Henshaw released wideman Ben Marlow, who cut inside and his left-footed angled drive was deflected past the foot of the near post from 25-yards.

Winger Darren Foxley swung in the resulting corner from the left and up came Henshaw (wearing a white head band) to flick the ball across the face of goal and two Folkestone players slid in but couldn’t prevent Jake Cass’s drilled shot from a tight angle from four-yards out bouncing off the foot of the near post.

“It was a real tight angle. You’ll be upset if it squeezed in. It’s not only hit the post but there’s two other lads that are blocking it from going in the goal anyway, so that’s how we defend, so did they,” added Edge.

Cass has scored 15 goals for Bishop’s Stortford this season and came up against a resilient Folkestone Invicta back line.

Folkestone Invicta missed a decent chance in the 33rd minute when striker Ade Yusuff swept a low pass from the centre to the left to find Heard in space and after skipping past advancing goalkeeper Jack Giddens, Heard’s weak shot lacked power to cross the line and was cleared away.

“It’s a hard one,” said Edge. “Heardy makes those great runs all the time. He broke the line and that pitch, he had to make the right decision. If he did make the right decision immediately the ground wouldn’t allow you to adjust to make up for it and I think if he looked at it now he should’ve just bent it in with the first touch.  The keeper’s made him go wide, sometimes you’ve got to give other people credit.”

Folkestone Invicta produced a well-worked move which should have resulted in the deadlock being smashed in the 40th minute.

Good play down the right hand side of the penalty area from Yusuff saw him play the ball inside to Ronnie Dolan, who put it on a plate for Heard, who placed his low left-footed shot rolling across the keeper and towards the bottom far corner, which Giddens dived low to his right to hold to ensure both sides went into the warmth of the dressing rooms on level terms.

“It’s a shame because that was a really good move,” said Edge.

“We worked it wide, Ade’s drilled it hard along the floor and yet again Heard’s turning up about the penalty spot. The hard thing is, everyone says in football, the hardest ball to hit is the one that comes across your body at pace. He did well to strike it with his weaker foot. The only thing is there weren’t a great deal of power in it and their keeper was more than able to save it.”

Edge added: “Do you know what, there’s not a lot you can say to them (at half-time).  It was a good game to watch, I think, in bad conditions.  We just said ‘look a little bit of quality in certain areas maybe, don’t give too much away.’

“There were certain things that we needed to do in areas on the pitch that will give us a bit of joy but as in most times at half-time you go out and the second half is just a completely different game.”

Referee Howard Collins ignored shouts for a Folkestone Invicta penalty in the 56th minute when Dolan whipped in a cross from the left flank and the ball bounced up and struck Henshaw on the arm beside his body.

Edge said: “I think that would be extremely harsh to be honest.  As much as you want a penalty for something like that, I mean Ronnie’s whipped a good ball in, it’s hit the ground and it’s skipped up.  I don’t think you could see daylight between his (Henshaw) arm and his body so I think if we would’ve got a penalty for that, that would’ve been harsh.”

However, just 41 seconds, Bishop’s Stortford almost scored on the counter-attack.

The ball was played up to Foxley, who played the ball to Johnville Renee, who fed striker Ryan Charles, who cut inside and lashed his left-footed shot over the crossbar from the edge of the Folkestone penalty area.

Edge said: “It’s amazing how a good opportunity for the other side happens after a good opportunity for yourself.  That was good play by them. The guy cut inside on his left-foot and he’s tried to bend it but just got too much on it and it just sailed over.”

Cugley replaced Everitt and brought on Ian Draycott in the 68th minute and changed formation to 4-2-2-2 with the quiet Kieron McCann and Heard playing out wide, with the other four players (outside the back four) in a central position on the pitch.

Folkestone Invicta goalkeeper Tim Roberts made a comfortable save inside the final 15 minutes, however.

Anthony Church played a 20-yard ball inside to the middle and an unmarked Marlow cut in and stroked a left-footed drive from 30-yards, which took a deflection and Roberts made a comfortable save low to his right, grabbing hold of the ball.

“Tim’s got good hands.  When you’re getting to the end of the game and really no one deserves to win, it’s always nice when it goes to your keeper and he smothers it and it calms everyone down,” added Edge.

Paxman played the ball down the left-channel and Draycott’s burst of pace saw him latch onto the ball before losing his composure and cracking a first-time drive high and wide from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

“It was a brilliant run. Alfie played a great ball, like he has done all season. Draycs’ has made a brilliant run and you’re thinking ‘brilliant, it will take something like this to get the goal.’

“I don’t think (it’s a lack of) composure because he’s full of it. I just think he’s got a bad connection with his weaker foot. He tried to square it and caught it thick.”

Folkestone Invicta won the corner-count by 6-5 but Bishop’s Stortford created an opening from their last flag-kick inside the final 10 minutes.

Renee swung the ball in from the left, the ball bounced off the head of 10-goal substitute striker Frankie Merrifield and Church’s speculative overhead kick looped up into the dark menacing sky and dropped down into Roberts’ gloves with the keeper standing beside a post.

Folkestone Invicta came agonisingly close to snatching victory inside the final three minutes when their two prolific strikers combined down the right.

David Smith played the ball into Yusuff (by which time his amber and black striped shirt was covered in mud) who laid the ball back to Smith, who swept his left-footed first-time shot curling towards the top far corner of the goal from 35-yards, only for the ball to scream just over the top of the far post.

Edge added: “Well, you know, how good it is when you look at the keeper, their keeper, I thought he was calm and collected, I thought he was good for the whole game. The minute Dave let fly with that, you could see panic in his face and then I think luckily for them, it sailed over.

“But it was going to need something like that to win the game, something real special but it didn’t go in and do you know what? A point is good for tonight’s game.”

Worthing remain at the summit with 41 points from 18 games, followed by Enfield Town (35 points from 17 games), Folkestone Invicta, Cheshunt (32 points from 18), Bishop’s Stortford, with Lewes now a point outside the play-off zone.

“How do I look at the league table tonight? Like I say, we just need to keep chipping away getting points, that’s what we’ve got to do,” added Edge.

“We went away to Enfield, who are a good side, and we came away with three (points) at the weekend (winning 3-2).  We played a good side at home today in hard conditions and we got a point. As long as you’re not leaving a game in zero, you’re going to be there or there abouts by the end and that’s what we’re trying to make our aim in every game.”

Sixteenth-placed Haringey Borough visit here on Saturday, a side that have collected 20 points from their 19 league games and have drawn their last two league games.

“They’re a good attacking side Haringey, they always have been. They always seem to unearth a good strike force that put the ball in the net plenty of times,” said Edge, who hopes Newman and Johnson can be added to the squad.

“We just have to have a look at our own boys really. It’s been quite a tough game and get them right and they know the importance of going at Haringey at 100% and trying to get all of the points.

“I think they’ve got a chance for the weekend, sometimes the midweek comes a little bit too soon. It would be nice to get a couple of the boys back on the bench, maybe.  The ones who came in today did well. With a small squad you’ll like to have them all back firing because it makes the job a lot easier for us.”

Folkestone Invicta then welcome Uxbridge here in The FA Trophy Third Round on Saturday 18 December, aiming to reach the Fourth Round for the first time.

Uxbridge play one level beneath Cugley’s side and are currently in third-place in the Isthmian League South Central Division, with one league defeat in 13 league games and with 30 points on the board, 10 points behind leaders Bracknell Town.

“The division doesn’t necessarily matter to be honest. Like in all cup games I think most people come to watch us always feel we always play better when we’re the underdogs in the cup but they’re doing well in their league so we’ll show them respect but it’s down to us to turn up and show that we are a league above,” added Edge.

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Jordan Wright, Alfie Paxman, Micheal Everitt (Ian Draycott 68), Callum Davies, Josh Vincent, Kieron McCann, Ronnie Dolan, David Smith, Ade Yusuff, Scott Heard.
Subs: Lenny Atherton, Aaron Simpson, Luca Borrello, Connor Collins

Bishop’s Stortford: Jack Giddens, Johnville Renee, James Thomas, Anthony Church, Sam Robbins, Ryan Henshaw, Ben Marlow, Jack Thomas, Jake Cass (Frankie Merrifield 61), Ryan Charles, Darren Foxley (Chris Harris 74).
Subs: Tobias Bird, Charlie Allum, Billy Cracknell

Booked: Jack Thomas 66

Attendance: 339
Referee: Mr Howard Collins
Assistants: Mr Richard Joss & Mr Piotr Zachwieja